Summary: Three reasons believers must reject the universal church teaching.
God’s Glorious Church
Are All Believers in “The Church”?
Woodlawn Baptist Church
April 3, 2005
“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
Today I want to resume the series of messages I have been preaching titled God’s Glorious Church. God is our Lord; Jesus Christ is our Head; and the Holy Spirit who equips and empowers us is our Guide and our Teacher. God is the One who has chosen to reach the world for Christ through the institution we call the church. Our purpose is His glory; our mission is to reach the lost and to lead them in the way of spiritual transformation. God has given pastors to lead by teaching and preaching and shepherding, and it is His desire that every member of every church be actively engaged in some place or form of ministry.
Outside of the institution of the family, there is no more important organization on the face of the earth than that of the church. There is not a business, charity, government agency, or program that has been given the authority or the power that has been given by God to His churches. The Lord’s churches hold the answers to every problem and every issue of life known to man, and never before in the history of the world has it been more important for us as God’s people to come alive with a renewed sense of why we exist so we can be busy about reaching our world for Christ!
I am excited about what God is doing here in our church. Every week I see our church growing in the Word, hungry for the Bible and for fellowship. You are inviting your friends, talking to your families, praying for and talking to those who are lost, and spending much time praising the Lord. Something great is happening here, and it is because you are allowing God to work through you.
Listen, of all people on earth we have great reason to be excited. Of all people on earth, we ought to be the happiest, most joyful, most gracious, most merciful, most generous and the most loving people on the face of this earth! We serve a great God – let’s let the world know!
You see, while you and I know a lot of things about God and the Bible and God’s glorious church, the people “out there” generally do not. There are a lot of misconceptions about who and what we are. Just turn on the television today and watch the world mourn the loss of the pope. When the multitudes think of the pope, they think of the church. In fact, I heard one reporter on TV this week ask a Bishop, “What will happen when the pope dies? He is the head of the church.”
I don’t know what that means to you, but here’s what it means to me: While all the world is talking the same church and Christian language, we still have a lot of work to do to reach the lost; maybe more than ever before. The multitudes talk about the church and have no idea what they’re talking about, and it’s not just the lost. You see, the truth of the matter is that we (the Lord’s churches) have fallen asleep concerning our importance and our purpose and our mission and our potential for leading in world change. While our job is to turn the world upside down, the fact is that our churches aren’t turning the world anywhere, and God wants us to be different, not just as individuals, but as churches also. I don’t know about you, but I am confident in speaking for the Lord in saying that He wants for our church to be different from what is found on every other street corner. Part of that difference is going to be in understanding what a church really is, because when we understand what the church really is, then we can begin to evaluate how we can best go on the offensive in our work.
The Definition of a Church
What is the church? When many people think of church, they think of brick and mortar, windows and roofs and shingles. These people “go to church.” It has become the stained glass windows, pews and carpet, pulpits and choir lofts and baptistries. There are others who think of church and think of denominations, such as the Methodists, the Baptists, the Presbyterian, Catholics, and others. Still others hear the word church and think of a universal, invisible body of all believers worldwide. All those who profess to be born again are members of this universal church. However, none of these are right when it comes to defining the church.